Tombs of the Nguyen Emperors

Spread out in the countryside near Hue, generally along the banks of the Perfume river, are the tombs on the Nguyen rulers who made Hue the capitol of Vietnam from 1802 to about 1945. There are six in all. We visited three. The tombs are in many different styles, but share many common characteristics.

Tomb of Gia Long
The tomb of the founder of Nguyen Dynasty is the furthest from town, and rarely visited.
The Tomb of Tú Ðúc
The Tomb of Tu Duc is probably the "one to see" if you only have limited time. It is the closest to Hue of the larger, more impressive tombs. The tomb is an enormous walled enclosure, practically a palace in its own right. In fact, the guidebooks and plaques on the walls will tell you that the emperor spent a lot of time here during the tomb's three years of construction. It seems likely that the tomb site served as a sort of summer palace.
Tomb of Dong Khanh
Emperor Dong Khanh was the nephew and adopted son of Tu Duc. He ruled for only three years, and his tomb is the smallest.
The Tomb of Minh Mang
The tomb of Minh Mang is the grandest of them all. It's also the only one on the "left" bank of the Perfume river. A short drive from the tomb of Khai Dinh will bring you to a landing where you can hire a boat to take you across for a few dollars. However, if you've got the time, consider combining a boat trip to Thien Mu pagoda with travel on to the tomb of Minh Mang. By boat, getting to both places and back to central Hue will take the better part of a day.
Tomb of Thieu Tri
Thieu Tri came to the throne after the death of Minh Mang. His tomb is a smaller version of his predecessor's.
The Tomb of Khåi Ðinh
If the tomb of Tu Duc is "the sublime" then the tomb of Khai Dinh is the ridiculous. Unlike many of the other tombs, this one is built into the side of a hill, and is, essentially, all of one piece. Its more European that the other tombs, having been built towards the end of the Nguyen period when the French were beginning to dominate the country. Parts of this concrete construction resemble a finely carved sugar confection.